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A Source for Musicians

A Source for Oriel Musicians

Music manuscript collections of Luke Donnellan and Patrick McGahon  which were published in facsimile in the appendices of A Hidden Ulster (pp. 435-507. 2003), have become a key source for Oriel musicians to replenish repertoire of older versions of tunes.

As well as ORIEL ARTS musicians, Darren Mag Aoidh, Dónal O’Connor and Gerry O’Connor, the tunes are also sourced by flute player, Dermot Rafferty, fiddle players Séamus Sands, Paul Bradley and piper Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn, with tunes played by accordionist Martin Quinn, piper Finnian O’Connor, accordionist Gráinne Smith and flute player Nuala Kennedy. It is a key source for the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music Music at DkIT, Music Generation Louth, harpist, Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Ceoltóirí Éireann Dún Dealgan.

Seamus Sands – Fiddle

        Oriel/Down fiddle player, Séamus Sands

The McGahon hornpipe (No 74 A Hidden Ulster p. 456) is played here by fiddle player Seamus Sands. 

Trad. Arr. © Seamus Sands, Across Bridges

Seamus Sands, who was brought up in County Down and now lives in County Cork, plays six tunes on his CD Across Bridges, sourced from the Patrick McGahon and Luke Donnellan manuscripts published in A Hidden Ulster. The tracks below are taken from his CD released in 2015, and also his own recordings made for ORIEL ARTS.  There is more here about Seamus Sands at www.seamussands.com

1. Here he plays an untitled hornpipe from the Patrick McGahon Collection which he calls The McGahon hornpipe (No 74 A Hidden Ulster p. 456) with is also recorded on his CD. Séamus remarks in his notes that it doesn’t fit with the more common rhythms of a hornpipe played nowadays.

No. 74 Hornpipe Patrick McGahon Mss A Hidden Ulster p. 456) c. Oriel Arts

2. Séamus Sands plays another set of three reels with Scottish influences, from the Luke Donnellan Collection. Scotch Groves, Toss the Feathers and Dictates of love. The first is found in the main Donnellan collection in the National Folklore Collection in UCD; the second tune is Toss the Feathers (No. 71 p. A Hidden Ulster), again a well known tune but Donnellan’s version interests him and it has strong piping influences.  The manuscripts of these tunes from Donnellan are printed here below under the audio.

Trad arr © Seamus Sands The Green Bunch of Joy CD (Dermot Rafferty)

Donnellan Ms No 71. Toss the Feathers. Ms, A Hidden Ulster © Oriel Arts

                              The Dictates of Love. Donnellan Collection No 89. A Hidden Ulster p. 504-5

3. Séamus Sands plays a set of two reels. The first The Little Boy in the Boat and the second The Boy in the Gap from the Donnellan Collection. They are taken from his 2015 CD Across Bridges, by kind permission. In the sleeve notes he writes that he plays the first tune with a sense of dialogue, as the phrases of music appear like a musical conversation between two people in a room, playing or singing alternate phrases or echoing each other. He plays a two part version of the Boy in the Gap rather than the common three part. He plays them slower than reels
are normally played in order to convey the simplicity of the melody and phrasing.

Trad.Arr. © Seamus Sands  Track 3 Across Bridges CD

No. 103 The Little Boy in the Boat No Donnellan Collection in A Hidden Ulster c. Oriel Arts

No 94 The Boy in the Gap Donnellan Ms A Hidden Ulster c. Oriel Arts

Dermot Rafferty  – flute

Dermot Rafferty Oriel flute player

Dermot Rafferty from County Armagh has been living in Manchester for many years.  He plays at least 11 tunes in total sourced from the Patrick McGahon and Luke Donnellan manuscripts published in A Hidden Ulster.

The tracks below are taken from his CD The Green Bunch of Joy  with guest fiddle player, Séamus Sands. It was released in 2013, and on it are tunes that he has sourced from A Hidden Ulster


4. Dermot Rafferty plays 2 jigs from the Patrick McGahon Collection including Paddy Carey’s (No. 85 p. 460 A Hidden Ulster) and If Ever I Marry (no 70. p. 455 A Hidden Ulster).

Trad. Arr.© Dermot Rafferty The Green Bunch of Joy CD

No 85 Paddy Carey from McGahon Collection No 85 p.460 A Hidden Ulster. c. Oriel Arts

Patrick McGahan MS - No 70 If Ever I Marry I'm the Son of a Whore

No 70 If Ever I Marry I’m the Son of a Whore. Patrick McGahon Collection – p. 455 A Hidden Ulster. c Oriel Arts

5. Flute player, Dermot Rafferty has also recorded a selection of tunes from the Luke Donnellan Collection from A Hidden Ulster including reels The Downfall (No. 37 A Hidden Ulster p.496) and The Cottage in the Groves: (No. 31 A Hidden Ulster p. 495

 Trad. Arr.© Dermot Rafferty. The Green Bunch of Joy CD 

No 37 The Downfall. Luke Donnellan Collection. A Hidden Ulster. p 496. c Oriel Arts

No. 31 The Cottage in the Grove. Luke Donnellan Collection. A Hidden Ulster p.495

Lá Lugh – Fiddle and Flute

Gerry Ó Connor and Eithne Ní Uallacháin as the group Lá Lugh, were the first Oriel musicians to play tunes from the Donnellan Collection of dance music sourced from the 1909 facsimile in the County Louth Archaeological Journal. They recorded selections of tunes on a few albums including a set of reels which they called The Donnellan Set on the album Lá Lugh in 1991. It included Miss Campbell’s is No. 14, A Hidden Ulster p. 492; Lively Kate is No. 25 in A Hidden Ulster p. 493.

They also recorded The Rose in the Gap No 63 p. 499 in a Hidden Ulster was re-entitled The Rose in the Garden on Brigid’s Kiss CD 1996.

Eithne Ní Uallacháin and Gerry O’Connor. Oriel musicians known as LÁ LUGH

6. Here is a recording of Eithne Ní Uallacháin and Gerry O’Connor playing The Rose in the Gap from the Donnellan Collection and an ensemble arrangement with other musicians Gilles le Bigot (Guitar), Neil Martin (cello), Mario N’Como (percussion) and Martin O’Hare (bodhrán).

The Rose in the Garden (Gap) Brigid’s Kiss CD  ©Lughnasa Music with kind permission


The Rose in the Gap No 63 p. 499 the Luke Donnellan Collection in A Hidden Ulster p. 499 Track 4 Brigid’s Kiss Lá Lugh album

Music Generation Louth

Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla has been teaching the harp in Dundalk and is mainly responsible for encouraging young people to play the harp. She teaches with Music Generation Louth and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Here, her students in the Senior Harp Ensemble with Music Generation Louth play the above piece, The Rose in the Gap, which they sourced from A Hidden Ulster.

Senior Harp Ensemble Music Generation Louth, taught by Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla

All above music is sourced from A Hidden Ulster – people, songs and traditions of Oriel (Four Courts Press) 2003.

(See AHU pp. 38-9; pp.421-507 for full references and further information)

Oriel Arts © 2020